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Kyodo News Digest: Jan. 27, 2023

Photo taken on Jan. 26, 2023, in the Shiga Prefecture city of Kusatsu, western Japan, shows icicles formed in trees on the shore of Lake Biwa. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The following is the latest list of selected news summaries by Kyodo News.


Tokyo core consumer prices hit 41-yr high at 4.3% in Jan.

TOKYO – Core consumer prices in Tokyo rose 4.3 percent from a year earlier in January, hitting a 41-year high, government data showed Friday.

The core consumer price index, excluding volatile fresh food items, for the Japanese capital remained above the Bank of Japan’s 2 percent inflation target for the eighth straight month.


Japanese power firms seek price hikes, adding to household burden

TOKYO – Most major utilities have sought to raise their electricity rates by around 30 percent to over 40 percent for the next fiscal year, in a move that will likely add to the burden on households expenses.

Seven of the 10 largest electricity companies have applied to the industry ministry to raise regulated electricity rates for households, which requires government approval.


IMF urges Japan to be more flexible in setting long-term bond yields

TOKYO – The International Monetary Fund on Thursday called for “more flexibility” in Japanese long-term yields after the Bank of Japan jolted financial markets with its surprise decision to widen the trading band last month for 10-year government bonds.

Accommodative monetary policy is still appropriate, and “exceptionally high uncertainty” remains over the inflation outlook, IMF staff said. Still, upside risks to inflation are prominent, partly because of the delayed impact of a weaker yen, second-round waves of imported inflation and border reopening, they added.


Japan to downgrade COVID-19 category on May 8: gov’t sources

TOKYO – Japan plans to reclassify the novel coronavirus to the same category as common infectious diseases such as seasonal influenza effective May 8, government sources said Thursday.

A government task force is expected to decide Friday on the planned downgrade of COVID-19’s category to Class 5, relaxing currently imposed steps, including restrictive measures and designation of hospitals for treatment, as the disease has become less deadly.


Toyota to promote Sato to CEO, Toyoda to become chairman

NAGOYA – Toyota Motor Corp. will promote director Koji Sato to president effective April 1, replacing Akio Toyoda, who will become chairman, the automaker said Thursday, marking the first change in leadership in nearly 14 years.

The move comes as the automaker, which is aiming to expand sales of electrified vehicles in line with its decarbonization goals, has seen fruit in its efforts to improve product competitiveness and profit structure.


8 crew members from sunk cargo ship off Japan coast confirmed dead

FUKUOKA – Six crew members among 13 who were rescued from a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship that sank in the East China Sea off Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture on Wednesday were confirmed dead, the coast guard said Thursday, leaving the total number of fatalities from the incident at eight.

Two have already been confirmed dead and five others are conscious after the 6,551-ton Jintian, carrying 22 crew members, sent out a distress signal and sank early Wednesday. The remaining nine are still missing.


Olympics: Asian body offers to admit Russian, Belarusian athletes

TOKYO – The Olympic Council of Asia said Thursday it has offered to give eligible Russian and Belarusian athletes the opportunity to take part in competitions in Asia, including the Asian Games.

The Asian body’s announcement came after the International Olympic Committee outlined plans to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the upcoming Olympics “under strict conditions.”


Japan to lift COVID rules on events, allow cheers at packed venues

TOKYO – The Japanese government is planning to lift COVID-19 regulations on events, allowing spectators to shout and cheer even when the venue is filled to capacity, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Currently, speaking in a loud voice is allowed at large-scale events, such as professional sports games or concerts, only when attendance is within the upper limit of 50 percent of a venue’s capacity.


Video: Icicles on the shore of Lake Biwa

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